Halachah Musings

Who Reads the Haggadah?

by R. Gil Student I. Three Seder Practices Generally speaking, when it comes to the Pesach Seder, people know the details of their own family’s practices but not those of many other families. From conversation, they might know what different people eat for marror but not necessarily when they stand and sit, how they engage in conversation, in what format ...

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Can You Give Cryptocurrency for Matanos La-Evyonim?

by R. Gil Student Cryptocurrency has gained traction in recent years, valuing over two trillions dollars in circulation. Can you fulfill the mitzvah of giving money to poor people on Purim (matanos la-evyonim) with cryptocurrency? I have not seen any poskim address this question so I will begin the conversation with some preliminary thoughts. I. Is Cryptocurrency Considered Currency? Wikipedia ...

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Breakfast on Purim

by R. Gil Student I. Premature Breakfast On Purim morning, are we allowed to eat breakfast? The answer is not so much a matter of food but of priorities. On Purim, we observe a number of commandments. Among them are reading the megillah, giving charity to the poor, sending gifts of food to a friend and eating a festive meal. ...

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Can You Give a NFT as Mishlo’ach Manos?

by R. Gil Student One of the mitzvos of Purim is giving Mishlo’ach Manos, a gift of at least two different things to a friend. With technology constantly evolving, I wonder whether you can give a NFT (Non-Fungible Token) as Mishlo’ach Manos. A consensus seems to be emerging because all the rabbis I asked responded in the same way: “What’s ...

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What Can You Learn On Shabbos?

by R. Gil Student The question of what you can learn on Shabbos often revolves around the permissibility of reading secular material. However, it also applies to the proper Torah material for Shabbos. What and how are you allowed to learn Torah on Shabbos? I. Take It Easy On the one hand, Rav Yeshayahu Horowitz (17th cen., Germany; Shelah, Masekhes ...

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Megillah in Spanish

by R. Gil Student A new rabbi has to navigate carefully between taking his role as a halakhic guide and respecting the community’s past. As a matter of conscience, if he finds the community engaging in a practice that he considers improper, he will want to change that practice. After all, he wants his community to observe the Torah properly. ...

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Monkeys in Talmudic Law

by R. Gil Student On odd occasions, a monkey makes an appearance in Talmudic legal discussions for a specific purpose. Monkeys are nimble enough to be able to do many actions that a human can do. However, a monkey lacks sufficient intent to classify an act as purposeful. If a monkey does it, it happens but it lacks intent. The ...

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Treifing Food

by R. Gil Student The laws of kashrus are simple to observe in general but extremely complicated in specifics. That is why you ask your rabbi when you have a question. What if someone renders your food non-kosher? You are cooking a meat meal and someone pours milk into it, rendering it completely forbidden. You must throw the food out ...

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Kohen Under a Tree

by R. Gil Student I. The Cemetery in Lvov A kohen is obligated to protect his sanctity from the impurity of a dead body. Part of this obligation requires him to avoid being under the same roof as a dead body. In 1620, a question arose about this fairly straightforward rule. Rav Koppel Katz, a young rabbi, had recently been ...

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When Is A Kiddush Not A Kiddush?

by R. Gil Student The common shul kiddush presents a puzzling halakhic case because it seems to contradict a basic rule. Kiddush must be part of a meal. However, the shul kiddush is generally not a meal as classically defined in Jewish law because it lacks bread/challah. A Shabbos meal should contain two challos yet most people eat no challah ...

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